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The Traveling Jim Crow Exhibit

***The staff of the Jim Crow Museum receives dozens of letters and emails. Some of these communiques offer insight into race relations -- historically and in the present. While some are hateful, we have decided to share some of these letters and emails with our Internet visitors.***

I am very proud of my community for bringing your work to us (Battle Creek). I especially appreciated your video which I will order.

I grew up in northern Michigan and am a 57 year old woman.

Many of the things in your museum were just familiar items in my childhood and at the time I didn't think anything of it. I lived in and attended a very large multicultural high school and we were all pretty much ushered through academics.

Questions that come to my mind today ... Yes, we have eliminated a lot of the tokens, ads, collectibles, written material yet racism is certainly alive and well. I am in a quandary why progressive people allow the hideous shows on television that are totally embarrassing, demeaning and stereotype reinforcing, such as the Jerry Springer type "entertainment"? As a high school teacher, those shows are discussed by minority students as if they know the people, I think we have to teach these children that those shows are perpetrating racism.

The news: Honestly, I really noticed this more after I had children. Why is the front page of your local papers and the first face we see on local news, one of a minority breaking the law? This is consistent and shameful, as if no one is successful in Battle Creek.

So, racism has shifted. What is one to do?

Finally, as a child I read story books that would be considered terrible literature now, and some that are classics (Huck Finn). I found that I could not say those words aloud when reading to my children and eventually tucked many books back on the shelf. Is it appropriate to read these to children, they are not sophisticated enough to understand "classic" or "it is OK to read this but not to use it elsewhere", should old literature be used or tossed?

I feel that as a caucasian, there is much less adult conversation that digresses to sterotypes but the children of all races are listening to demeaning music (often produced and performed by minorities), watching ridiculous television and believing it, and self esteem has not risen within our African American children's lives.

Keep up the great work and collection. You are making a difference!!

Educator from Battle Creek, Mich.
-- May 3, 2011